Four things to watch at the Republican convention Thursday

A woman watches as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Aug. 28, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A woman watches as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the keynote address during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.
Spencer Platt

(CBS News) TAMPA, Fla. - Tonight is the most anticipated night of the Republican National Convention as Mitt Romney formally accepts the Republican nomination. Here are four of tonight's expected highlights:

Mitt Romney (10:30 p.m. ET): The stakes are extremely high for Romney as this is traditionally the first real opportunity for presidential nominees to address a wide audience gearing up for the general election. While the stated purpose of the convention is to officially nominate him, his acceptance speech is a mechanism to set the tone of the campaign and introduce himself to voters.

Although Romney and the campaign have spoken very little about what he plans to say tonight, Romney is expected to talk about himself while laying out his vision for the country and offer up a direct contrast with President Obama. A Romney campaign aide told CBS News that his remarks will be a continuation of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's acceptance speech Wednesday night, in which Ryan weaved in some policy ideas with a stinging rebuke of President Obama.

The biggest speech of Mitt Romney's life

Marco Rubio (10 p.m. ET): The Florida senator has the crucial job of speaking before Romney. Rubio is considered a rising star in the Republican Party and is representative of the diversity the party is trying to showcase during the convention. As one of the party's most prominent Hispanics, he is sure to talk about his background as the child of Cuban immigrants as well as his views on one of his signature issues: immigration.

(Watch: The 2012 Republican presidential primary, in four minutes.)

Jeb Bush (8 p.m. ET): The brother of former President George W. Bush and former governor of Florida has differed from Romney on policies including taxes and immigration, but he is speaking in his home state and appeals to broad base of Republicans. Bush has been vocal recently about the GOP needing to be more inclusive.

Newt Gingrich (7:50 p.m. ET): After a long primary campaign where he was very critical of Romney, the former House speaker has thrown his weight behind Romney and has become a full-on supporter. His expected forceful and partisan speech is sure to include a lot of red meat to excite the Republican faithful at the convention. Gingrich's wife, Callista, is expected to join him on stage.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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